Monuments of the Age

Just as Egyptians, Greeks and Romans built grand projects that defined the culture and technology of their times, builders of this century made big statements--usually in concrete

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING, 1931

Opened in the teeth of the Depression as a mighty symbol of rebirth, the 102-floor building got off to a wobbly start financially. Built by General Motors executive John Raskob, the building reigned for 42 years as the world's tallest. Its Art Deco crown, intended as a mooring mast for blimps, served as a handy perch in King Kong. A few skyscrapers have since soared higher, but none has surpassed its limestone majesty.

THREE GORGES DAM, 2009

Mao once dreamed of taming the Yangtze, China's longest river, whose floodwaters have claimed the lives of millions. Officials expect...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!